Blowing our cover
By Hamid Jalili
Poetry is a "play" that a poet directs in our mind to express messages of love, pain, passion, and yes, at times, social injustice. Whether you take Iraj Mirza's poem literally or symbolically, the characters of the play and its message are worth analyzing. As a reader, you are at the liberty to or not to identify with either character.
From the very beginning of the play, the poet gives us a crystal and clear picture of a scoundrel male character. The woman, on the other hand, is introduced to us as a character obscured by her chador which is covering and protecting her against men. Other than the message of chastity which she is radiating by her chador, initially no other preconceived opinion is suggested by the poet about this woman.
What should we expect from an immoral yet honest man? Immoral, because he is trying to seduce a married woman. Honest, because in advance, he is informing us (the audience, the readers) of his ultimate intention which is - through various schemes - to sleep with the woman.
As the pursuit progresses, although through different means, the intention of this manipulative rascal stays focused on the prize. The woman's principles however, alters and changes as she approaches the final act... GO TO FEATURE
Standing against Taliban - together
By Hooshang Amirahmadi
The people of Iran want peace but not at the expense of national humiliation. Iran has a powerful and experienced military including the Revolutionary Guard who favor conflict as a means of regaining their fading prestige. Unlike the Soviet Union, Iran has cultural links to Afghanistan where the majority speak Persian and is more familiar with the harsh terrain of the region. Currently two million Afghan refugees live in Iran, most of whom despise the Taleban.
Most seriously, the hard-liners in Tehran are calling for a tougher approach to the crisis and will roll back domestic reforms if the international community does not respond to Tehran's concerns. All the democratic gains of the Iranian people are at risk as is regional stability. This process has already begun: last month Tous, a popular Tehran daily, was closed down by the conservatives.
All these facts point to the need for the United States to take the leading role in diffusing tensions between Iran and the Taliban. President Mohamad Khatami's visit to New York City to address the U.N. General Assembly was an extra incentive to act. The meeting between high level Iranian and American officials also indicated a further thaw in their icy relations... GO TO FEATURE
Sing to me, once more
By Pejman Asgarpour
Thirteen years have gone by since that day. It was the last time I saw my father; I haven't even seen his picture. It scars me. What does he now look like? Is he really old and gray? Would I even recognize the man if I see him or would he be able to pick his son in a crowd? These questions run through my mind here and there.
Since that summer day, the distance between me and him has grown further and further; a phone call this year, a letter the next. He has my pictures from graduations and things I have achieved over the years but I don't even know if he cares anymore. I truly miss him.
I would love to sit on his lap like old times so he could sing me some song from Golpa. Or wait for him until he comes back from one of his business trips so I could get my lavashak. But I know those days would never be repeated and God knows what miracle it would take for us four, including my brother, to be in the same room again... GO TO FEATURE
Forgiving Salm and Tur
Some see a geopolitical parable in the legend of Fereydoun's sons. The eternal East/West, and Iran as the bridge separating and uniting them, seems to appeal to that vision which places Iran as the center of the universe, the axis around which the inhabited world rotates. But the myth, many centuries older than the Shahnameh version, also bespeaks of a very powerful unspoken in our culture. The manner in which the brothers and their progenitors squared off against one another in malice and envy attests to the ambiguous and unspoken - yet faithfully obeyed - boundaries that sequester the ethnic groups from one another inside Iran.
Salm has come to represent the Arabs and Tur the Turks, and our national psyche still bears deep wounds after so many centuries of all the times the Iranian Plateau has been overrun by conquerors from the south, the west and the north. We are particularly wounded by the invasion of the plateau by the Arabs and the Turks. In defense of our national ego and pride, however, we have translated the trauma of conquest into a groundless sense of ethnic superiority. That one of our greatest "national" poets - certainly our most important epic poet - saw Iraj as the innocent and morally superior victim of his two "foreign" brothers also affirms the feeling of suspicion and hostility we have towards the foreigners, institutionalized so long ago in our national epic poetry.... GO TO FEATURE
The nice artist
There's a lot of truth in the popular impression that artists are an unusual lot. They are also often seen as be bad tempered, frequently depressed and arrogant. I saw none of that when I met Behnam Farahpour last month. He was as pleasant as can be, smiling, and modest about his talent.
But he has plenty of time to change, I guess. He's not even 20-years old yet. He's in his first year of art school at Pittsburg's Carnegie Mellon University, one of top American art schools.
While still in high school in Bethesda, Maryland, Behnam's work were displayed in a number of art shows. Here are some of his best... GO TO FEATURE
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